Americans seek revenge on Germans in semifinal
The U.S. women's soccer team hasn't forgotten its World Cup loss last year.
THESSALONIKI, Greece (AP) -- For fans of women's soccer, these Olympics just wouldn't have been complete without a United States-Germany rematch.
Bring it on.
Both teams won their quarterfinal games Friday night, setting up a semifinal Monday between the last two World Cup champions.
Germany beat the Americans 3-0 last year in the World Cup semifinals and went on to win the title on U.S. soil.
"We have revenge," Abby Wambach said, scoring a goal in the Americans' 2-1 victory over Japan. "This is something we've all been thinking about. I know I have. Every single game we've played I've told myself, 'Don't ever forget how that feels, how it felt when that whistle blew against Germany and we lost.' "
Germany advanced by defeating Nigeria 2-1. Brazil beat Mexico 5-0, and Sweden defeated Australia 2-1 to set up the other semifinal.
The Americans have been asked about Germany nearly every day of these Olympics, but coach April Heinrichs and her players had refused to look beyond whoever the next opponent happened to be.
Now they can let their feelings fly.
"We want to play them," midfielder Shannon Boxx said. "I'm glad that we get a chance to play them. I'm glad Nigeria didn't beat them. I'm glad we can give them a chance to know what we felt when we lost to them. ... We're going to go out there this time and definitely take it to them."
First, however, the Americans needed to get past an improving Japanese team. It took a bit of trickery to produce the goal that made the difference.
When Mia Hamm took a long free kick in the second half, Boxx made a delayed run forward, timing it perfectly to thwart Japan's offside trap. Three U.S. teammates followed, making for a rare four-player breakaway against lonely goalkeeper Nozomi Yamago.
Boxx corralled Hamm's kick and slid a pass to Wambach, who literally trotted the ball into the net in the 59th minute for her 17th goal in her last 18 games.
"Our coaching staff told us they like to pull that trap," Wambach said. "Shannon stayed onside, and it was a great touch for her to take. Probably the easiest goal I'll ever score in a world event."
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